AUGUSTA – Scripted chants filled the air Wednesday as activists from the Maine State Employees Association (MSEA) and the Maine People’s Alliance (MPA) arrived at the State House on school buses to voice religious objections to Gov. Paul LePage’s biennial budget.
“Hey, hey, ho, ho, this budget’s got to go,” they chanted, referring to the budget proposal the governor introduced in January.
Hallowell Mayor and Associate Director of the Maine Women’s Lobby Charlotte Warren served as the master of sessions for the state workers’ union ceremony, which featured Leslie A. Manning, a former state worker and current board director for the Maine Council of Churches. Citing the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, Manning told the crowd of activists that LePage’s proposed budget does not square with biblical morality.
“Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless,” said Manning, quoting from Isaiah chapter 10.
“What will you do on the day of reckoning when disaster comes from afar?” she asked. “Could it be any clearer?”
Said Manning, “The very basis of our community is the compact that we have made since our beginning – since our founding as a nation – to assure each other’s well-being and welfare.”
Manning has firsthand experience serving Maine communities. She was Deputy Director of the Maine Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Standards from 2004 until 2010, when LePage was elected. In 2009, her last full year of civil service, Manning received a taxpayer funded compensation package worth nearly $90,000.
At the same time current and former state workers and liberal activists were voicing objections to LePage’s budget, the non-partisan Informed Women’s Network (IWN) hailed it as an act of fiscal responsibility.
Anne-Marie Grenier, an IWN member, said she took the day off from work to attend today’s rally in order to support a balanced budget.
“It’s time to be fiscally responsible,” said Grenier. “The governor is not a bully,” she said. “He’s a man who understands the need to operate within a budget.”
Watch a video of the rally below: